The Devil’s Rain (1975)
Article 6059 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Robert Fuest
Featuring Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Ida Lupino
Country: Mexico / United States
What it is: A 64-pack of Crayola crayons left in the sun.
A family in possession of a book of evil do battle with a Satanic cult.
With Robert Fuest’s name in the credits, I expected there would be some interesting stylistic touches to the movie, and there are. In fact, the movie’s vibe works pretty well for me during the first third of the movie. At that point the movie starts to wander, and once we reach the sequence in which we find out about the burning of a sorcerer three hundred years ago, it shows it’s not averse to traversing the path of well-worn cliches. The movie seems mostly remembered nowadays for two things. One is the presence of John Travolta in an early role, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to his fans as anything but a curiosity. The other is the extended meltathon that ends the movie, and since we get a taste of the effect in the opening scenes of the movie, it’s a bit like enjoying a hamburger in the beginning and then having to eat the whole cow at the end. It’s a shame; I like some of the aspects of the movie so well (especially the desolate locations) that I wish a decent story had been attached to the movie.
Let’s Ring Doorbells (1935)
Article 6058 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Arthur Davis and Sid Marcus
Voice cast unknown
What it is: Another forgotten Columbia cartoon
Scrappy and his baby brother get bored and decide to entertain themselves by going around ringing other people’s doorbells.
As might be expected from a setup like this, Scrappy and his brother have a lesson to learn, so they end up in a spooky with a ghostly old man who tells them they can’t leave the house until they press the right doorbell. This sequence is like a mild version of BIMBO’S INITIATION, but it still makes it as one of the better Scrappy cartoons out there. Many of the doors turn out to be booby traps, as you might expect. I wish there were a few more laughs, but it’s one of the higher points in Columbia’s cartoon catalog.
The Sad Little Guinea Pigs (1938)
Article 6057 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Manny Gould and Ben Harrison
No voice actors
What it is: More than a little unsettling
A mad scientist tries out his new tonics on three terrified guinea pigs.
Heaven knows what this nightmarish cartoon’s reputation would be if it were better known and not a forgotten Columbia cartoon. Certainly, animal activists would be appalled, though it would certainly be useful to them from a propagandistic standpoint. It’s basically a mad scientist subjecting his guinea pigs to his various sick-looking tonics (each of which seem to contain a mutant creature) and watching their bodies mutate and contort. No, it’s not whimsically amusing; it’s sheer nightmare, and the fact that the scientist gets a comeuppance at the end doesn’t quite make up for the nastiness. And, lest we forget, this is a children’s cartoon, and no doubt someone somewhere considered it a funny idea. Perhaps obscurity is the best place for this one.